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Patrick Corbin falters late in start vs Pirates; Nationals drop finale in PNC Park...

Patrick Corbin looked good for a while on Sunday, but it did not last...

Washington Nationals v Pittsburgh Pirates Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

Patrick Corbin put together a solid-enough outing in his 2022 debut, holding the New York Mets to five hits, two walks, and two earned runs in 4 13 innings pitched, but in his second start of the season this past week in Atlanta, the Washington Nationals’ left-hander looked more like the pitcher who struggled in each of the past two seasons, after a big run in D.C. in the first campaign of his 6-year/$140M deal in 2019.

Corbin tossed a scoreless, 20-pitch first against the Braves, working around a walk, but it all fell apart quickly as he gave up four hits, a walk, and three runs in the second and five hits, a walk, and three more runs in the third, before he was lifted, having thrown 83 pitches to the 20 batters he faced in 2 23 rough innings.

“He starts out strong,” GM Mike Rizzo told 106.7 the FAN In D.C.’s Sports Junkies when asked what he’s seen from the 32-year-old left-hander so far this season last Wednesday, “... and his stuff is firm, and it’s good and he commands it, and first time around the lineup he has some success, and then either they start figuring him out or he’s not making adjustments or not hitting his spots, but again, I’m optimistic that his stuff is still good and he’s throwing the ball pain-free and feels good about it, so every five days he’s going to get the ball, and we need for him to get better and lead that young rotation moving forward.”

Washington Nationals v Atlanta Braves Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

Pitching atop the rotation, which is currently missing expected starters Stephen Strasburg and Joe Ross, the Nationals are hoping their Opening Day starter will find a way to turn the tide after struggling on the mound in each of the past two seasons.

“Sure, and he’s got the track record, and he’s got the accolades,” Rizzo told the Junkies.

“And like we say, [he’s got] the back of the baseball card to prove it. He’s just got to get back to the 2019 Corbin that we saw pitch throughout the season and throughout the playoffs, and don’t forget he was pretty darn good before that also.

“So yeah, we’re counting on him and we’re going to go back to the film and the video and see if we can make some adjustments and get him on track.”

His manager, Davey Martinez, said he wanted to see Corbin throw strikes and attack hitters in start No. 3.

“I want to see him attack the strike zone today, and utilize all his pitches, but really establish his fastball early and attack the strike zone,” he told reporters before the series finale.

Corbin came out of the gate in the series finale in PNC Park on Sunday with an efficient, 8-pitch, 1-2-3 first against the Pittsburgh Pirates, and took the mound with a 3-0 lead in the second, when Yoshi Tsutsugo singled to start the home-half of the inning, and then took third base on a pair of errors by Maikel Franco, who bobbled a grounder while thinking of a double play, and then sailed the throw to first base.

With runners on first and third, and no one out, however, Corbin struck out Ben Gamel, with an 0-2 fastball, and induced a grounder to short with a first-pitch sinker to Roberto Pérez to start an inning-ending 6-4-3 DP.

A 13-pitch, 1-2-3 third left Corbin at 33 pitches overall, and he worked around a two-out walk in the fourth, throwing 17 pitches in the inning, then came back out and stranded a single in a 20-pitch fifth which left him at 70 total after five scoreless frames.

Washington Nationals v Pittsburgh Pirates Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

Jake Marisnick reached base on Franco’s third error of the game to lead off the Pirates’ half of the sixth, but Corbin picked him off for the first out of the inning. Daniel Vogelbach took a one-out walk, and took second on a Michael Chavis single to right field, then the second walk of the inning by the Nats’ lefty loaded the bases and ended his outing after 92 pitches overall...

Patrick Corbin’s Line: 5.1 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 4 Ks, 92 P, 54 S, 7/3 GO/FO.

Victor Arano took over on the mound, and a run scored on a Diego Castillo groundout, 3-1, and another scored on a single by Gamel before the right-hander got the third out with a one-run lead remaining, but the Pirates ended up scoring five unanswered runs in a 5-3 win which gave the home team 3 of 4 in the series.

Corbin said stamina-wise, he was good to keep going, but some tough matchups led to the end of his outing.

“I wasn’t fatigued,” Corbin said, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman. “It was good to get up to 90 pitches, get into the sixth; I haven’t done that yet. They just had a couple good at-bats. I walked a couple guys there. Trying to be aggressive in the zone. I was just missing a little bit away.”

“We talked about him attacking the zone, he was getting early swings soft contact,” Martinez said after the game.

“He looked great, then all of sudden he went away from that. The walks, walked two left-handed hitters, everything went away, but I liked what I saw up to that point. I mean, he threw the ball well, so we got to get him through that one inning where things just kind of just go away for him. His misses weren’t horrible, but they were still misses, so we got to get him in the zone. When the game is like that, late in innings, just got to throw strikes.”